ABSTRACT

Over more than a quarter-century of activity (1972–1998), the Committee on the Status of Women (COSW) tenaciously pursued feminist goals. This article uses COSW (an official SAA committee) as well as the Women's Caucus (an informal interest group) as a lens through which to examine the larger phenomenon of feminism in the archival profession. First, it sets forth the political, social, and cultural context of 1960s and 1970s feminism and discusses the factors that led to the founding of the two groups. Next, it traces their activities in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. COSW and the Women's Caucus worked within while pushing to reshape established SAA organizational structures. The two groups promoted the documentation of women's experiences and the writing of women's history, attacked job discrimination and salary inequities in the profession, lobbied strenuously for women's equitable participation in the SAA, encouraged scholarship by and about women, and supported passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. This article then sets forth the circumstances that led to the dissolution of COSW in 1998 (the caucus continued its longstanding work). Finally, it discusses the vital legacy of the two groups and suggests areas for further research.

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